Cassie’s eruption is a season in the making. After hooking up with Nate, who is her best friend Maddy’s (Alexa Demie) abusive ex, she becomes obsessed with getting him to like her—so much so that she’ll wake up at 4 a.m. to beautify herself, a process which includes hours of ice rolling her face and curling her hair. When she finally gets Nate’s attention, if not affection, she morphs into Maddy lite. Her wavy hair becomes pin straight, her eye makeup dark and vampy, her wardrobe an endless collection of navel-grazing and thigh-skimming two-piece sets—and the clothes are by far the eeriest sign of her demise.
Matching sets and flashy suits are an easy, impactful shorthand for the queen bee. Think of Cher Horowitz in Clueless, Hilary Banks from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, the titular Heathers, and Courtney in Jawbreaker. They ruled their kingdoms in coordinated outfits, a quick sartorial reminder that they had their life together—or at least they wanted you to think that they did. In season one of Euphoria, Maddy wears everything from a rainbow Louis Vuitton crop top and leggings to that purple bra and cutout flares to a sweet lilac skirt-and-sweater set for school. Costume designer Heidi Bivens told me in 2019, “We definitely decided from the beginning that we wanted her to wear sets, that would be a thing for her.” Even as her life spiraled, her outfits always matched.
Cut to season two. Maddy is kind of, sort of, thinking of getting back together with Nate, unaware that Cassie is losing her mind (and probably the top layer of her skin) over winning his affections. “I think what you see her trying to emulate is what she wishes she was, and so more than a lot of the other characters, I feel like Cassie’s clothes are a costume,” Bivens told Vogue at the start of the season. “She’s still trying to figure out how to present herself to the world, and I think so much of what she does and how she dresses is about wanting to be loved.”
Cassie tries a bunch of different looks, including a floral minidress and giant hair that make her friends think she’s trying out for Oklahoma. Because Cassie’s approach to style is so wrapped up with traditional gender roles (she almost exclusively wears baby blue and pink), it takes her a while to get to what Nate wants. She finally gets a second glance from Nate when she walks into school in Y2K-inspired turquoise flared pants and a matching long-sleeve ruched crop top. She has sculpted edges and is carrying a tiny handbag. Maddy walks up to Cassie wearing the exact same thing in lilac. What Nate wants is Maddy.